Vinay Katiyar, like Pravin Togadiya, is a flavour that has gone out of season—even for the BJP. Both leaders were high- profile proponents of the Ram temple in Ayodhya in the 1990s but Narendra Modi now stands tall in the BJP and the party seems to have no need of foot soldiers past their prime who bring nothing new to the table and do not realise their utility is over.
But Katiyar’s Rajya Sabha membership is coming up for renewal and although the BJP has ample number of MLAs in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly to have him elected along with a few others, he is not sure he will even be nominated. So what does he do? Hate is a great attention catcher, thus he not only calls for the destruction of the Taj Mahal, India’s most exemplary monument and one of the seven wonders of the world, he also calls for Muslims in the country to exit to Pakistan or Bangladesh.
It is clear he is culling favour with UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, if not the central leadership of the BJP. For the Yogi’s views have been not much different—since his ascension, the UP government dropped the Taj Mahal from its tourist brochure and, in his previous avatar, Adityanath had made nasty remarks about dead Muslim women.
But here is why both Katiyar and others who think like him are wrong through and through. During the recent Kasganj violence in Uttar Pradesh, Muslims preparing to hoist the national tricolour, were disrupted by saffron flag-waving miscreants at the Abdul Hamid square. Now Abdul Hamid is an immortalised name that every Indian of Katiyar’s generation should be familiar with. He was a grenadier in the Indian Army who single-handedly destroyed three Pakistani Patton tanks as they were advancing towards Indian territory in the Khemkaran sector, uncaring of their combined fire power.
He drove straight into them and was hit by a Pakistani shell before destroying the last of those tanks. But his courage and bravery saved the Indian positions and gave time to the rest of the forces to recoup, reinforce and reposition themselves. They eventually beat back Pakistan and won the 1965 war. Hamid was born in 1933. Should he have been sent to Pakistan in 1947 when he was barely 14? Or should he not have been allowed to join the Army and fight for India, his country, for which he gave his life?
I would like to go back even further into history to the times of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and the Adilshahi kingdom then headquartered in Bijapur in modern-day Karnataka. Students of history would be familiar with the battle of Pratapgarh between Afzal Khan and Shivaji who was invited by Khan’s envoy, Krishnaji Bhaskar Kulkarni, to a meeting with his boss. Although the meeting was called for a truce, it was Shivaji’s personal bodyguard, Ibrahim Siddi, who warned him of a conspiracy laid by Kulkarni to trap Shivaji and advised him to wear protective armour and carry the tiger claws which he eventually used to disembowel the six-footer Khan (Shivaji was much shorter) when the latter attempted to stab him in the chest.
The armour saved Shivaji’s life but when he plunged the claws into Khan’s stomach, Kulkarni was among those who tried to overpower Shivaji, though he escaped. So who should have been banished to Pakistan (if it had existed then)—Kulkarni or Siddi whose warning and advice saved Shivaji’s life? Shivaji went on to establish Swaraj and he was helped in this in no small measure by his Muslim generals. That concept influenced and inspired both Balgangadhar Tilak and Mahatma Gandhi and became integral to our freedom struggle against the British.
Closer to our times, I would like to recall how Dr Farooq Abdullah, former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, defeated Pakistan’s designs in the 1990s at the peak of militancy in Kashmir with a few sentences—in colloquial Kashmiri.
At a UN meeting in Geneva, Pakistan had put up a so-called Kashmiri woman before the world to recount how Kashmiris were treated by Indians, particularly the Indian Army. As she recounted her harrowing tale of fear, torture and escape, between sobs with tears streaming down her cheeks, Dr Abdullah, sitting in the audience, began heckling her every few minutes or so. No one understood the language Dr Abdullah was speaking but neither did that ‘Kashmiri’ woman. She stopped every time Dr Abdullah spoke but continued with her ‘by heart’ tale of woe.
A few minutes into this drama, Dr Abdullah stood up to inform the world that she could not be a Kashmiri because he had been, not heckling, but asking her some relevant questions in the dialect of Shopian from where she claimed to be. She was nonplussed and rushed off the stage, thus defeating Pakistan’s plans to weaken India’s case on Kashmir. Should Dr Abdullah now be banished to Pakistan?
Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray always used to make a difference between the Abdul Hamids and Dawood Inbrahims of India—the latter is already hiding away in Pakistan. We must now learn to make a difference between Hindus and Hindutvawadis. The latter are merely political interpreters of a religion of peace and tolerance that they render ugly and violent by statements like Katiyar is making, simply for personal gains.
Saare jahan se achcha was an anthem written for school children by Mohammad Iqbal. Mazhab nahin sikhata aapas mein bair rakhna, he had said in those verses. Hindi hain hum, Hindustan hamara was his motto for himself and all of us. It is sad he later became a propounder of Pakistan and migrated from India during Independence. But we still sing his song for India. Pakistan does not.
Senior journalist and political commentator